Weekends were made for brunching…and brunching was made as an excuse to eat luscious orange and ricotta stuffed almond milk French toast dishes like this one.
Almond milk French toast stuffed with ricotta and orange is my favorite breakfast of what I'm calling the Pandemic Era. This homemade French toast brings gorgeous flavor and color to your brunch table, and it's deceptively simple to create, thanks to a top secret ingredient: a jar of orange marmalade.
This old fashioned jam brings a sweet-bitter punch of flavor that works beautifully with the almond flavors of the milk and the creamy ricotta. And it pulls double duty in the buttery orange maple syrup.
This one's a keeper, team. Save it to your "most delicious breakfast recipes" file and get ready to party.
What you’ll need to make stuffed almond milk French toast:
- sliced brioche bread
- unsweetened almond milk
- almond extract
- whole milk ricotta
- orange marmalade
- pure maple syrup
- butter and oil
- toasted almonds
- orange zest
Step by step instructions for stuffed almond milk French toast:
To begin, we will prepare the buttery orange syrup. Combine 1 cup of maple syrup, ¼ cup orange marmalade and 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium low. Heat until butter and marmalade have melted, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
Next, we’ll prepare the French toast filling. Combine 1 cup of ricotta and 3 tablespoons of orange marmalade in a small bowl. After that, whisk vigorously to combine and incorporate some air, creating a fluffy sweetened cheese filling. Set aside.
For the French toast egg custard, combine 3 eggs, 1 cup almond milk, 3 tablespoons of honey, 2 teaspoons of orange zest, a ½ teaspoon of almond extract and a pinch of sea salt into a shallow dish. Whisk very well to combine.
Then lay out 12 slices of stale, dried brioche. If you need to dry a fresh loaf to make stale bread, I’ve found Alton Brown’s method to be the best way. Two options - lay out your fresh bread slices on a rack over a baking sheet and leave the bread in the oven (the oven should be OFF) overnight. Second option, and the one I use most often, is to lay the fresh bread on a rack over the baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes, until the bread is dried but not browned. (time will vary, depending on the freshness of your bread and moisture content).
Spread about 2 ½ tablespoons of the ricotta marmalade mixture onto 6 slices of the brioche bread, leaving a small border around the crust.
Top with remaining slices of bread to form 6 sandwiches.
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet (cast iron or electric skillet) over medium heat. One of the keys to creating crispy French toast is using oil instead of just butter. Our old friend butter adds luscious flavor, but the milk solids can create a soggy French toast. I’m firmly in the anti-sog camp, so oil it is!
As the pan is heating, dip French toast sandwiches in the egg mixture, leaving each side to soak in the mixture for 45-60 seconds. Then, gently move the custard-soaked sandwich to the heated pan.
Afterwards, grill for 2-3 minutes on each side, carefully monitoring the heat. Rotate the bread in the pan to ensure the bread is toasting to golden brown.
Once grilled on each side, gently move the stuffed French toast to a rack over a baking sheet. Leave in the oven on warm or very low heat (200 degrees Fahrenheit or less) while you grill the remaining toasts.
Finally, to serve, slice each French toast in half on the bias. Serve with additional ricotta marmalade on top, along with sliced toasted almonds and warm, buttery orange syrup.
To store, wrap tightly in plastic or move to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, warm in a dry skillet over medium heat until heated through.
FAQ’s and serving suggestions:
You can use any lactose-free cheese substitute, including ricotta, cream cheese or even cottage cheese. Just use the same ratios of cheese filling to marmalade. Then taste and adjust for sweetness.
In addition to being a dairy-free option, this almond milk recipe adds a subtle flavor to the egg mixture that is accented by the almond extract. If you're looking to stay in the dairy-free French toast zone, oat milk, light coconut milk, cashew milk or soy milk are all good options. If cow's milk works better for you, a mixture of heavy cream and milk or half and half would add another layer of richness to this delicious French toast.
Challah bread is a good alternative to brioche, and sourdough is a classic French toast recipe option. Whole wheat bread will add some nutrients and dietary fiber to this ultra-decadent brunch favorite. Just be sure the slices are fairly thin (about the thickness of regular sandwich bread) for the stuffed French toast to work well. Thick slices of bread (Texas toast style) will not create the balance we're looking for in this treat.
One of the keys to creating crispy French toast is using oil instead of just butter. Our old friend butter adds luscious flavor, but the milk solids can create a soggy French toast. I’m firmly in the anti-sog camp, because nothing tastes as magical as those crisp edges! If canola or sunflower oil isn't a good fit, grab some coconut oil or grapeseed oil.
A dash of cinnamon and / or nutmeg would add warm spice to the egg custard mixture in this easy French toast recipe. Use a light hand, since you don't want the spices to compete with orange and almond flavors.
Brown sugar would be a great alternative, but granulated white sugar or stevia would also work.